After nine years as Commission Chair, Judge George Timberlake retires

Nine years after he was appointed Chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission in 2010 by Governor Pat Quinn, Judge George Timberlake announced his retirement. Under Judge Timberlake’s leadership, the Commission transformed itself into a key player for leading, funding, and supporting fundamental community-based juvenile justice reform in Illinois.

“It is impossible to describe everything Judge Timberlake accomplished during his long career advocating for youth justice,” said Paula Wolff of the Illinois Justice Project. He’s been at the heart of many initiatives and has sacrificed an enormous amount of time to travel throughout the state to understand the issues of juvenile justice and develop research and policy solutions through the Commission.

Without his work and personal dedication, there wouldn’t be four robust juvenile justice councils or Juvenile Redeploy sites in 42 Illinois counties. So many communities, juveniles, and their families have led safer and happier lives because of him.”

Since 2010, Judge Timberlake worked to transform the Commission into an effective State Advisory Group (SAG) and a respected voice on juvenile justice policy, practice, funding, and programming matters. The Commission now funds a range of state and local initiatives designed to produce data, support state-wide system improvement, foster local collaboration and accountability, and demonstrate the efficacy of community-based services and supervision. Under his leadership, the Commission issued a series of reports that provided unprecedented and comprehensive analysis to policymakers, advocates, and the public. 

Illinois has undergone significant transformation during Judge Timberlake’s tenure. For example, under his leadership the Commission revamped its funding approaches, shifting from small grants focused on service-provision, to more strategic grants focused on long-term and sustainable systemic improvement,” said Director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Heidi Mueller. “His tireless dedication has made us all better off.”

About Judge Timberlake

Prior to his time as the Chair of the IJJC, George Timberlake served as a trial court judge for 23 years and as Chief Judge of Illinois’ Second Judicial Circuit. Since his retirement in 2006, he has been a strong advocate for more of a community-based intervention approach to juvenile justice, acting as a key facilitator for the state’s Redeploy Illinois program and the Illinois Models for Change Initiative. In addition, he served as a member of the first Illinois “Coordinating Council” which was responsible for the earliest phases of planning for Models for Change in Illinois. He helped catalyze collaboration with and among advocacy organizations already active in Illinois.

“His experience and knowledge as a juvenile court judge, a Chief Judge with administrative experience, and a chair of a Circuit-wide Juvenile Justice Council was invaluable in shaping and implementing the work of the five Illinois ‘demonstration sites,’ including selecting local grantees and launching their system improvement efforts, said new Commission Chair Rick Velasquez. “It is impossible to describe everything Judge Timberlake has accomplished during his long career advocating for youth justice.”

While George Timberlake has retired as the Chair of the IJJC, he will continue his work with Southern Illinois Violence Prevention Project and his service as a Board Member for the Redeploy Illinois Program. He continues to communicate regularly with policymakers in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches regarding juvenile justice issues.   

“There can be no doubt that, without George Timberlake, Illinois would not have accomplished many of the milestones which directly benefit youth, families, and communities,” said Velasquez about his predecessor. “George Timberlake’s contribution to Illinois has been momentous and will certainly outlive his time as Chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission.”

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